Juniors explore the world of workers

The Counseling and College Readiness Department at McNicholas requires juniors to shadow a person during one shift of their job. Assigned in January, juniors were tasked to find a person to shadow, arrange a date, observe their job, and ask a few questions. Along with other programs and aid provided by the counseling department, the job shadowing requirement is designed so that juniors could gauge their interest in a certain field and more easily decide on a college major, and ultimately what career path they should take.


Students were permitted one excused absence from school in order to shadow a career of interest. English teachers assigned a questionnaire with questions to ask the person being shadowed in order for students to learn more about a potential career.

Taylor Collett

Junior Taylor Collett thought that she would like to either be a lawyer, an actuary, or a data analyst. When tasked with job shadowing, she decided to look for an actuary or a lawyer. She ended up spending half a day with each because they both worked at the same company. Collett knew about both jobs before shadowing because her father is a lawyer for Cincinnati Financial, and she has attended two seminars on actuarial sciences and data services. She found Rory, an attorney, and Phillip, an actuary, because they work at Cincinnati Financial with her dad.

As she shadowed two jobs, she learned the pros and cons of both. Collett said being a lawyer is exciting and involves talking to many people. “Winning cases in court or settling them in the company’s favor comes with satisfaction. However, there is a lack of jobs for people with law degrees right now, and it can be very stressful. Oftentimes there are no set hours, and much of the work is done outside of the actual office. Being an actuary requires a creative spirit, is very low stress, has easy hours, is very well-paid, and it is easy to advance to executive positions,” Collett added. Actuaries get to work in teams with executives and make important decisions. The major con to being an actuary includes the ten exams it takes to actually become an actuary.

One thing that surprised Collett is that there are only about 2,000 to 2,500 fellows, which are people who have passed all ten actuarial exams, as opposed to an associate who has passed fewer. Collett said, “I thought that if I wanted to be an actuary, I would need a degree in actuarial sciences, but when talking to a woman named Lisa, who recruits the company’s actuaries, she said that it is actually the people who major in mathematics and statistics who do the best on the tests and complete the most tests.”

Collett is considering going into actuarial sciences because of the opportunities, and thinks that being an attorney could be very difficult with the overabundance of people going into law.

Kate Custer

Junior Kate Custer knew that she would like to shadow a physical therapist since that is what she thought she would like to do as a career once out of college. Her aunt was going in for physical therapy, and invited her to tag along to shadow. This meant that Custer wouldn’t have to deal with shadow-patient confidentiality papers.

Custer said, “I knew a lot about physical therapy before I shadowed because I had been going to a physical therapist a couple of years ago.  I would be there every day, and I really enjoyed it because I knew I was strengthening my knee and the job just seemed really fun.”

Custer shadowed a woman named Alisha at the Mercy HealthPlex. During the job shadow, Custer learned that it requires an undergraduate degree of four years and an additional three years in a DPT, or doctorate of physical therapy, program. Alisha said that she typically sees about thirteen patients a day and helps with a range of problems.

Custer said that she no longer thinks that physical therapy is what she wants to do, largely because of the extra time and money that it takes to accomplish. Custer is now looking towards a different profession in the medical field, stating, “Now I have been looking in to being a medical laboratory scientist/technician, which does not require graduate school and I was looking at colleges that had a good program for this and UC has a great one.  I was already thinking of going to UC because it is close, inexpensive, and also my brother is about to graduate from there.”

Adam Helwig

Junior Adam Helwig thought he would like to go into mechanical engineering as an adult. He was looking to shadow either a business major, a GE engineer, a mechanical engineer, or a software engineer. Helwig chose to shadow Michael Walsh, a software engineer at Siemens.

Before shadowing, Helwig didn’t know much about the job, although he has a general sense of coding. Listing the pros to working as a software engineer, Helwig stated, “You get to help people out. You get to help out companies and you get to help out the world. Siemens has a general sense of just meaning well. It’s a good company with a nice workplace.” Helwig said that it is also very complicated job and difficult career. “I realized how difficult the work could be, like whether you were a team leader or just a programmer, it’s a difficult job.”

After shadowing, Helwig said that his interest in computer and software design isn’t as high as he hoped. He had an interest in majoring in mechanical engineering with a minor in business or software, and is leaning towards business now.

Garrett Mindrum

Junior Garrett Mindrum knew he wanted to go into architecture as a career in the future. For his shadowing experience, he found Matt Wheeler, an architect for Jack Rouse Associates.

Before shadowing, Mindrum knew the basics of working as an architect. Mindrum has used some of the software that architects work with and knows that architects must pass a national exam. Mindrum said the positives are that architecture is something that he really enjoys and doesn’t think will “get old.” He likes to work with technology and noted comradery amongst the coworkers at Jack Rouse Associates. Mindrum said the negatives can be that architects work long nights, and the deadlines can be stressful.

Mindrum is now looking for a NAAB accredited school with a bachelor of science or bachelor in architecture. He knows he needs to get used to working on projects for extended periods of time, but feels he will definitely be going into this field in the future.

Donald Noble

Junior Donald Noble knew he wanted to be a high school music teacher or the owner of his own teaching and recording studio, so he decided to shadow Neil Eckstein, a musician, music instructor, and owner of Orange Whale Studio.  Eckstein has been Noble’s music teacher since Noble was given a bass guitar for Christmas when he was 11.

“I knew going into that it would be busy and that there would not be a whole lot of breaks,” Noble said. Eckstein teaches instruction on numerous instruments and also has a recording studio for individuals and bands. Noble said that the positives of owning and operating a studio is that it would be his own business and he could take it at his own pace. The schedule and pricing is up to the owner. Noble also listed the cons of being a small business owner. “If I’m sick, there’s no money. If my work ethic is poor then my business will go under, and I won’t have any money, and I’ll be in legal trouble.”

After job shadowing, Noble knows that he wants to major in music education, and is now looking into minoring in recording.

Marie Steinkuhl

Junior Marie Steinkuhl didn’t know what field she was interested in before her job shadowing experience. She had a general idea that it might be either working for a non-profit or work in a healthcare field. Steinkuhl got in contact with McNick alumna Christa Hyson from The Health Collaborative through Mr. Young because she remembered her from her speech at the National Honor Society induction. Steinkuhl said, “I chose to shadow Ms. Hyson because, when she gave a speech about herself at the NHS induction, I heard experiences that I wanted to participate in myself.”

Before her job shadow, Steinkuhl said that all she knew about this job was that it was healthcare related and involved math. During the time she was there, she learned some pros and cons from Christa Hyson, an epidemiologist for The Health Collaborative. A positive is that she gets to do something different every day and is fortunate enough to help people gain access to care and social services. Some of the cons to the work are compassion fatigue, less than desirable resources, and limitations of grant funds and flexibility due to current healthcare laws.

Steinkuhl said that this experience helped her to narrow down which colleges she might pick because she would like to go into a public health major. She is still unsure of what she would like to do in the future, but for right now, she thinks that this is her best option.


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